Sunday, July 26, 2015

Organized Summer, vol 2. "Think like an organized person"

Welcome to this week's edition of Summer Organizing!  If you missed the first volume where we touched on some basics and how to organize a drawer in ten minutes, you can read it here.

Today, we're going to talk about something near to my heart- the idea that you can't really become an organized person without first learning to think like an organized person.  When you want to tackle your chaos and get it organized, there are a few mindsets you'll want to change before you ever begin sorting your items, or all the cleaning in the world will only lead you back to the place where you were.

In this day and age, we can allow ourselves to think we need stuff.  Lots of stuff.  We treasure our stuff, we store stuff we can't possibly ever use, we pack garages full of even more stuff so that our cars can't even fit in there anymore, we keep stuff we think we might need someday in huge rubbermaid bins, we take pride in our stuff (and others seeing our stuff) and we can't imagine parting with most of our stuff.  We know people matter more than stuff and in a fire, we'd grab the people but oh how we would mourn that stuff.

So.  We must remember first and foremost the Moth and Rust mentality.  In the bible, there is a verse that reminds us we can't take any of it with us and in fact we aren't supposed to hoard items and make such a big deal of having all this STUFF.

19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.  Matthew 6:19-21 (MSG)

This goes hand in hand with the Bless Others mentality which is my very personal favorite way to look at organizing.  Firstly, it is a lot easier to organize anything when there is less of it.  So obviously, get rid of anything you don't love, need, or use regularly.  Donating your unwanted or unused items to others who are in need, or can't afford the item new, etc, can be such a blessing!

So moral of that story is this... Less is more.  Get rid of the excess and keep only what you need, use and love... then begin organizing, using the process we implemented last week-  A keep bag, a donate bag, and a trash bag... and finally, neatly store the keep items with logical thinking and containing.

Think of it this way- If you haven't actually pulled it out to use in one full calendar season.. let it find a new home.  This applies to holiday decor as well because chances are, you purchase a few new items each season since the stores burst with cuteness. (Target, I'm talkin' to you!)

On a personal note, I keep an informal rotation going using the calendar year system I just mentioned, but I also only have so much space in my home, so if I do get something new, I typically shed something in return.  It keeps me from stockpiling stuff, and I tend to have only what I actually use and love at any given time.  I also regularly peruse-purge.  That is, if I know I am going to the consignment or goodwill, I find myself opening cupboards or bins to see if there is anything I no longer use or need and if so, I add it to my bag and get it gone to bless another.

We are also called to take care of what we've been given in this life and I look at organizing as a way we can do that.  It helps us keep things in good repair and keeps us from being wasteful. Organizing also helps us on the front end, because we're less likely to purchase something we already have in the first place, if we know where it is and know that we use it.

Thinking like an organized person requires consistent maintenance.  (This shouldn't be exhausting- it's not the same as having to go for a run because you ate some cake.)  (grin) What I mean, is you will want to adopt the habit of handling objects as little as possible... when it's in your hand take a moment to think where it belongs and put it directly there without setting it down here or there first, and then forgetting about it later.  Put it right where you know it belongs the first time and it will be there.  I am still training my kids to do this but I can see it becoming easier. 

I hope that all of the things we touched on will help you in thinking like an organized person.  And you may not realize this... but this is a grace week!  You can continue working in all your drawers that we began last week, and next week we're talking about school organization so if you don't have kiddos in school, you can use that momentum to continue elsewhere!  I love a good grace week, don't you? Happy Organizing!
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Organized summer, vol. 1- "Ten minute drawer fix"

Welcome to this quick summer series on organizing!  I'm thrilled to have you along as we tackle a few places, and spaces, and ideas when it comes to organizing your home.  My overall goal in this series, is that you would leave encouraged and not overwhelmed, every single week that we talk about this subject. Paste this one Sasha rule to your forehead through this series- go easy on yourself.  I mean it.  I will be tackling a few neglected areas along with you so don't get to thinking that every corner of my space is all "perfect-y"... cause it's not.  Today we're talking about drawers because they are a great place to begin.

DON'T: feel embarrassed by your chaotic areas. (even if that's your entire home. That, my friends is life, and we all have a few (or many) chaotic areas that need some work.  There is a life application here as well.  Just own it for a second without shame, and we'll find a way to tackle it.  Mkay?)
DO: believe that there is a solution to every single organizing problem.

There truly is!  We all have a tendency to browse pinterest and blogs and instagram and then compare what our home isn't or what it can't be... and oh my what we do to ourselves when we fear we can't measure up to some mental yardstick and somehow think we must!  Don't let yourself do that!  You can create intentional order in your entire home, one piece at at a time, all it takes is a little planning and some momentum and that's what this next six weeks is all about.  Don't look around at what you don't have or can't afford, or the mess, or what feels overwhelming, or you'll never begin.

In fact, the most important thing I want to say to you today, is don't tackle your biggest and hardest project first, instead, begin small and build up a bit of momentum.  If you work alongside of me in your own home, over the next six weeks, you'll be well on your way to thinking like an organizer and having a space that reflects that.  All of these posts are meant to connect to one another so what you learn here, you'll bring with you to vol. 2, etc. 

For this first project, you'll be organizing a drawer.  Any drawer will do- a bathroom drawer, a kitchen drawer, a junk drawer, a desk drawer...whatever.  Just get yourself a messy drawer.

You will want to gather the following supplies before we begin:

A small box, bag, bin, or basket to dump the drawer contents into
Three paper bags
A black marker or pen
Cleaning cloth or wipes
Drawer liner (optional) 
Drawer organizer containers, small boxes or even small containers such as tupperware type. (also optional but this does help the process so I do recommend at least something to contain smaller items.) If you don't have any- don't let this stop you from tackling this drawer.  However, even small gift boxes, and lids or cut cereal box bottoms will work in a pinch and can make a huge difference.

*Step one: Mark on each paper bag, using your black marker or pen: one bag should be marked "trash," one should say "donate" and one should say "keep." (You will use these again so keep them after this project.) Now set these around where you'll be working through the drawer contents.

*Step two: Get a small box, bin or basket and dump everything out of that drawer and into the box.  You may be tempted to skip this step but it's a nice one since it forces you to deal with every thing in the drawer, and it also makes it much easier to wipe it clean.  You'll be less likely to dump everything back into that drawer once it's been cleaned and/or lined and is looking all pretty and fresh.

*Step three: Wipe drawer out completely and then line with pretty paper, drawer liners, freezer paper, or non stick rolls of liner (I find mine in the grocery store near the contact paper.) if you like.  I don't always do this but it's a nice step.

*Step four: Look at what you have dumped out of your drawer and picking up each item, quickly ask yourself; "Should I keep this?"
 *Do you or someone in your household use it regularly? Then yes.  
*Do you love it, even if you don't use it? Then yes. 
*Does it have special meaning to you, regardless of whether you use it or not? Then yes.

Now... does it go back in this drawer or.. is there a better or more logical place I should put this? If so, go right now and put it there, then quickly come back and keep going!  The key is going quickly and not over-thinking.  Don't get hung up on a paperclip and where it should go. 

*If it belongs in that drawer, put it into the "keep" bag and move on to the next item.  
*If it's broken, throw it away. 
*It it belongs to someone else, put it by your door and take it to them when you run your next errand. 
*If you never use it, donate it and bless another person. 
*If you don't like it, or it's not your taste but Aunt Susie gave it to you for a wedding present and you don't want to hurt her feelings, you really... could...donate it.  Chances are, Aunt Susie isn't monitoring your use or enjoyment of that item the way you assume she is. You know what happens when you assume...  And think of this- you'll bless someone else out there who is looking for just such a treasure, if you donate it. Just saying. 

*Step five: By this time, you should have gone item by item, and your "keep" bag should be ready to go back in the nice, clean drawer.
*Step six: Put things back in.  Think- like things, with like things. Example: measuring spoons together, hair ties in a gift box lid, batteries in a tupperware container, etc.  You can take a moment to make it look nice but your focus is really on making this a practical YET quick fix.  Quick sort, quick wipe out, quick decision making, quick tossing out what you don't want/use/need and quickly putting it all back in some sort of logical grouping because if it takes you too long, you'll get overwhelmed and dump it all back in without finishing. Don't let yourself quit!  As soon as the keep bag is empty,  close that door and pat yourself on the back.

You are going to love the little surprise of seeing everything all tidy, each time you open your drawer and hopefully it will inspire you to continue with more drawers that need your attention.
  I recommend getting those donated items out of the house asap and don't let yourself go back through anything you sorted- Trust your first instinct, because it's normally the right one.

If it took you longer than ten minutes, don't sweat it.  Practice makes perfect.  Grab another drawer and challenge yourself to move through the process a bit faster this time.  You can do it.  One drawer at a time, one item in the drawer at a time.

I am even going to leave you with a bonus tip in closing, until we chat next week! 

Happy Organizing friends!
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Introducing: Organized Summer/Sanity Savers

Artwork I found recently, while out thrifting
Hi Sweet things!!

Today after work, I got to thinking.  What if we did a quick little blog series for the remaining weeks of summer?  I was thinking of a weekly sanity saver post where we talk about organizing some of the little bits and ends that get pushed aside during the chaos of the rest of the year.  You know those baskets of catch-alls, drawers with no purpose, closets we would never open for the public and such?  

 I've got loads of ideas and tips.  I was thinking about talking about the following possible topics, in the weeks to come-

1) The ten minute drawer sort. (Tips and guidelines to get those drawers organized one at a time.)
2) The organized mentality.  (I have plenty to say here because anyone can do this and it's truly where it all begins.)
3) School preparedness organizing.  Each year that the kids grow, I seem to find better and different ways that work for me NOW and maybe we can talk about what I'm doing this year, at this stage!
4) Command center, calendars, menu planning, quick meal ideas, freezer meals, feeding a crowd because, #3.
5) Closet tips and my favorite... the Bless Others mentality because #2
6) Linen closets, catch all spaces, junk drawers, and making it pretty AND functional.
7) Tips that I love, products that I recommend, and a few solutions that have blown my mind. 

This is the general idea. I'm hoping to begin this little blog series starting next week! I'm going to try and open comments back up, and cross my fingers about that spamming issue! Let me know if you really want to talk about any specific areas... the idea is to save our sanity before fall hits and this is the perfect time to begin getting your house in order before the holiday season is upon us! (Pretty much Halloween-New Year's.)

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The "How hard can it be?" project

Hey guys.  I have meant to get this post up all week but well... life.  I did want to thank you all for the kind words about my last post- you blew me away as always.  Social media is a crazy adventure and I so want to do it right for my family so thank you!!  You're all so precious. Now for my party pit arbor post....Finally!

Adrain and I have this running joke.

Well to be fair, it's not so much of a joke to him.  But it's funny to me.

You see, each time I have a brain storm idea, I tend to explain it, draw it out, wheedle my way around it and finalize my conniving with, "How hard can it be?"  

He always kind of stands back and gives me that look.  He almost always caves and tries it out in the end, but about halfway through, when he inevitably hits a roadblock, he sort of smirks at me and says (in a rather mocking sort of tone that I don't always appreciate fully), "What? How hard can it be?"  

Yet still, I persist in sharing my DIY ideas. Because my mama didn't raise a quitter.

Anyway.  Ten years ago, I planted a wisteria vine that a neighbor gave me.  I knew nothing about wisteria.  I certainly didn't know that it would someday try to take over the corner of my house and run for president.  And I also didn't know that Adrain would dig that thing out down the the root system and the next year it would come back with a vengeance, and house vicious, venomous, evil snakes.

Okay so maybe it was only the one snake.  And perhaps he wasn't venomous. 

But people, can we all agree on this?  One snake is more than enough and I don't think we need to quibble over the whole "evil" or venomous part.

So my idea, was to build an arbor and have it wind away from the ground (thus providing no shelter for said snakes) and away from the house, giving it room to be free.  Or whatever wisteria vines need to be.

I drew Adrain a picture on a piece of paper and he loved it.

Which may or may not be a slight exaggeration on Adrain's actual feelings on the matter, but like I said before... snakes. 

(Involuntary shudder)

 This was the snake house, before.  I just wanted you to be reminded what we were working with here.

And for the record, there was also a very creepy spider and a wasp nest in the mix so as you can see nothing good ever lived in a wisteria vine.

And apparently they can't be killed, only directed.
 The boys did some shopping, some research, some post hole digging, some gigantic industrial sized screw turning, some concrete pouring, and voila... we had an arbor.

I knew it couldn't be all that difficult. 

 Also please totally ignore the fact that my entire yard is now dead.  We are in drought in the PNW along with a huge burn ban so s'mores are not on the summer menu.

We almost hope for some rain.


I felt it necessary to document the process since it was so easy.  (grin) My son did agree that I could share this photo in spite of the look on his face, and may or may not have told me to also feel free to mention his washboard abs.

Also allegedly.

And on a positive note... my hoodlums captured snakey-mc-snakerson and relocated him to another place. (Though I'm recalling somewhere that snakes return to the home of their birth place each year and I am certain he is looking to find his way back.  If he does, I may have to turn Mr. Brodeur and his lawn mower loose in the yard.) 

(Not that Adrain has ever purposefully gone over a snake (or ten of them since our yard may or may not have been sort of infested with them when my kids were babies) with his lawn mower because hello, animal cruelty...please don't report me. All I'm saying is, a snake can't hide as well in short grass.  And hopefully...for his sake... he doesn't get in the way when my man is out mowing.  That's all I'm saying.)

I mean, how hard can it be to rid yourself of a pesky snake?
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 In closing, I wanted to share a sweet little deal that my peeps over at Ever Thine Home have got running this coming week from Tues- Sunday. (14th-19th) They are offering a "Yay it's back," free shipping promotion for this My Shield plaque!  (I'm also a lot in love with that front door for the record.) Click here to shop!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pulling back... Social Media 101

This is one of those posts that I have wanted to find a way to write for some time, but hesitated because, how do you say all the things in your heart lovingly, without offending or giving the wrong impression?  I guess in the end, I decided to talk about this subject since I can't possibly be the only one trying to navigate Social Media 101.  This wasn't around when my mama was parenting me and sometimes it appears to be a feel-your-way-as-you-go scene.

Like a lot of you, being a blogger has meant putting the majority of my life out there on social media and it's been almost all wonderful.  I know many of you can share a similar good experiences.  I've invited the world into my life and I've been really fortunate in finding this readership of sweet and loyal people in you all.  For the most part, that sharing has been met with kindness, grace and encouragement.  You will never know the times you have lifted up not only me, but members of my family and even one another, by your kindness.  (Now, there have of course been those occasional snarky responses to that invitation into my world, and I've had to brush them off, ignore, and sometimes block them.  It happens.  Not often, but it's good to set boundaries and remember that ultimately your social media world is a place where your rules should stand.  Sometimes that means setting limits or blocking those negative interjections.) (By the way, I have noticed that a lot of you read my blog here but most of you comment on Instagram or via email and I've gotten a ton of really bad spam here lately so I've closed down comments for the time being.)

I closed down my Facebook account last year.  After doing that, I highly recommend taking the time every so often to evaluate what social media outlets do for you or to you, and how you are affected by what you see others putting out there... from my own experience, I found that it's crucial to ask yourself if what you're bringing into your home via social media is healthy for your heart and relationships and if it's not, back away.  You can always deactivate things temporarily and then later delete it completely if you find that's the best choice for you.  Personally, I didn't miss it and deleting it was the right answer for me. When my Facebook account was open, I often struggled with hurt feelings after seeing what others were doing without me/turning me down for/etc., and I decided that I didn't need to actually invite that kind of unhealthy negativity into my world by choice.  So, I closed it down permanently. Best choice ever...for me.  Now when the time comes that my kiddos want Facebook accounts of their own, I will of course reevaluate things, as is wise for parents.  Amen?  

Instagram has been a whole new social media ball game for me.  I have absolutely loved it, because artistic images are really my favorite thing to see, take and share. Now if we can all be vulnerable on this point (because I can not be the only person who feels like this) it can be a little bit exhilarating to watch that follower count go up, but it can also be frightening! For the most part, outside the little circle of regular, recognizable commenters, you don't actually know many of those people!

Personally, there are moments when Instagram can feel a little overwhelming because I can't keep up on responding to all the sweet comments or questions left there, and I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself with the word, "should."  (Just so you know I do read every one, and your encouragement is ALWAYS appreciated even if I don't have the time to directly tell you so!)  Also, (and this is a big one) my kids don't want me sharing photos or stories about them publicly anymore with the occasional exception, and I ask before I share anything anymore.  So like Facebook, I took the time to evaluate my Intstagram account.  I thought about what I can and can't do, along with who I allow in.  In the end, I split the difference and decided to keep my lemonademakinmama Instagram account for blog-related things, home decor, DIY's, and less personal sharing, and I opened a privately screened Instagram account for my more personal family sharing which I have already found works well for me, and the best part- it pleases my children. 

I am still very much learning as I go, and my kids are only in the early stages of learning to navigate social media.  I deeply want to set a great example and help them learn as much as possible from my mistakes and experiences, rather than their own.  I want them to know that they are not doormats or slaves to social media.  Which means that they don't have to drop everything to email or text someone back. (Unless it's me- and then they had better do it with no delays!) (Ha!)  They don't have to put anything they don't want to share out there (and shouldn't).  I want them to know that they don't have to allow people to say hurtful things in their social media spaces since they are inviting people into their worlds, and they have the power to put blocks on those people and keep them out if that happens.

Sometimes it's important to evaluate what is going out, and pull it all back a bit if necessary.  If I can model those kinds of boundaries for my children, I hope to be better prepared to help them navigate their own someday, and I hope this encourages you to look at yours as well.  I have always felt that there is no harm in safer, more healthy personal boundaries in any area of life, and social media should be no exception.  I'm not sure if any of you need to take a closer look at your public profile, but I want to encourage you that it feels really good and empowering to do so!

Up next, I'll be sharing this arbor (above photo) that my boys built for our wisteria vine, in the entrance to our party pit, so stay tuned!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Marriage can be so difficult to manage...but so can mail piles.

 When Adrain and I got married (goodness, 19 and a half years ago!) we both agreed on most things both important and unimportant.  Such as thin crust pizza, always.  The way the toilet paper roll should go over the top, and which side of the bed we preferred, among them. (Though technically, I pretty much still take over the middle, and he winds up with the sliver of an edge. Sad but true and he still puts up with me.)

Growing up, my mama kept things very clean and organized, and since that was all I knew it was a natural thing for me when setting up my own home- Adrain deeply appreciated it and we went from there.  But then I realized something.  I'm a "files person" and he is a "piles person."  Oh my heavens...  This is strictly paperwork that I'm speaking of.  Everything else is mostly a non-issue for us as we both put things away as we go, and like a picked up house.

Whenever Adrain gets home from work, the natural drop zone area for the mail and his keys is pretty much the end half of the island.  You walk in from the garage, and face the island and there is not really any other place to put a small table or surface in between or around that area to set things in.   

A few months ago, I was dealing with two kids on stools with backpacks at their feet, binders and paperwork spread on half of the island where they sat, and that left little space for mail, keys and lunch boxes.  When I went to begin dinner each night, I was getting quickly frustrated and was feeling tempted to banish people and their things to bedrooms.... but I love having them all around so a solution was needed, pronto.  I work on solutions at my job, and I thought I could certainly find one for my problem too, right?! I considered adding a little table to the end of the island but I really didn't think it would look nice and our house is so small and open that I didn't want to add more furniture.  (People often think that's the answer, but it's most often not- unless it's the right piece of furniture.) Vertical space is almost always the best answer... and nobody does vertical space use better than Ikea.

So off I went to shop. Ahem. Research.

And that's when it hit me.  Their enamel condiment bucket system!!!

On the other side of my island is a little towel bar, also from Ikea, and I love that!  So, I purchased the same one, and added two of the cream enamel buckets. They look great in my kitchen and come with little protective liners inside them.  Two fit perfectly in this space. Once I had them home it hit me.  Labels!  Because the only thing better than solving a problem, is labeling that solution for all to see. For reals.
I contacted my buddy Leen the Graphics Queen, sent her a photo of what I was working on and asked her to help me... she mailed me two vinyl graphic words- "MAIL" and "KEYS" in black, and that was that! All I had to do was tell her the size of the words I wanted and specify all caps once we decided that the "y" in  lower case "keys" would cause me application issues.

So... I'm not saying that piles of mail and keys at the end of the kitchen island at the end of each day were going to be the death of my marriage... but I am saying, that if they were, these little buckets with their adorable labels would most likely have saved it. Ha! 

The best part- they don't take up much room, they actually get used daily, and they didn't cost much.  Also, I installed them my very own self and all my man had to do was plop his items into them when he got home- which he does because they are handy and right where he would normally put things anyway. (Which I have noticed is a key to finding a solution that works long-term.  Put the solution where your problem is currently and you'll actually use it.)  

Leen is so awesome to work with- she has been helping me label my pantry jars and odd little things for years now, so if you need anything you will definitely want to contact her! 

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Planting a Cutting Garden by a non-expert

Many years ago, I was all gung-ho on planting a garden box.  Or rather, I was gung-ho on planting four, 8'x4' sized garden boxes to be exact.  I planted six tomato plants that year, yielding a crop of over 200 lbs of tomatoes among many other veggies, and I learned how to can things in a hurry.  It would have been hysterical if it hadn't been so frantic.  I remember walking door to door with flats of tomatoes, begging my neighbors to take them.

In the end, my mother came over for a hot, sweaty weekend of learning as we went, because she hadn't ever done a lot of canning in her life either- but she had the advantage of having watched her mother do it so she knew the basics and we went from there.

The point was, my "if you're going to do a thing, do it all the way" approach was a little overwhelming and I learned my lesson.  (Well, at least when it comes to gardening, anyway.)

The next year, we downsized our garden back to two boxes, removing two, and made a fire pit in the vacancy they left.  I turned one box into a cutting garden and the other was a veggie garden. (I didn't plant tomatoes... and you're not going to believe this but two tomato plants came back on their own and produced a TON of tomatoes.  I had no idea a tomato plant would come back on it's own but it did.  It was nuts.)  Fast forward to a few years later, and those wooden raised beds were rotting apart so we decided to line the house and fence with six smaller, more appropriately sized beds- (4'x2' each) which was the best decision we ever made when it came to planting.  I kept three boxes strictly for cutting garden space and that's what I'm here to chat about today.
 Firstly, I do believe that flowers are my love language.  Having them in the house all summer long, is one of my favorite things.  I combine herbs and cuttings from anywhere in the yard into bouquets and I love being able to simply walk around the yard and see what I come up with.
One of my dearest friends wanted more exact details.  She asked me what I planted, when I planted it and such.  As for what I plant- I've got a lot of perennials that come back, scattered all over, such as hydrangea, lilac, peony, lavender and greenery such as hosta, boxwood etc.  I've got azaleas, and other random bushes I frequently cut from for greens.

As for the cutting garden boxes themselves, I first got the idea nearly twenty years ago.  Adrain and I were newlyweds, renting the cutest little mother-in-law cottage, and our landlord's wife had planted a large flower bed at the back of her house that was strictly for cutting and bringing inside.  I thought that was a brilliant idea.  Why just grow things to enjoy when you're outside, and spend money to purchase flowers when you want something inside- or to give away? Flowers make the prettiest gifts and they work for all occasions.  After that, I vowed to myself that I'd have my own cutting garden someday so I could bring little jelly jars filled with home grown flowers to friends at BBQ's and enjoy beside my kitchen sink all summer long.

As a general rule, I don't use many flower starts, preferring to plant in early to mid-May, and working mainly from seed packets. I plant directly in our soil, rather than starting my own indoors, but I live in the Pacific NW where we often finish with any deep freezes by February and we have more mild weather year round anyway.   (You'll want to pay attention to your planting zone when planning when and what to plant of course.) I adore zinnias for their season long color display and tend to plant about 2-3 seed packets of these in May.  This year I did plant dahlias from starts and they haven't done well but it's been very hot and I forget to water well.  Oops.  I typically chose a wildflower mix seed packet for butterflies and/or hummingbirds and they tend to grow all kinds of pretties that I can't identify other than saying they make our bouquets lovely throughout the summer season.
 Honestly I'm pretty sure I planted a few other things that either didn't come up, or are in the process of coming up, and I can't remember what they are.  I always think I'll save the seed packets in my gardening book and refer back to them but then I don't and it doesn't matter anyway... what comes up gets enjoyed and what doesn't isn't missed. Ha!

 (I'm one of those gardeners that can't always tell the weeds from the plants and don't really care over much... just saying.  I also kind of randomly scatter seeds wherever when I'm planting. Which is also why I reminded you this post was written by a non-expert in the title.)

 This garden box had a bunch of things die, so it's looking a bit vacant at the moment.  As the summer progresses the zinnas will take over some of that space and it won't matter.
 As soon as the zinnia blooms are open I tend to cut them just above the second set of leaf clusters.  They keep coming back all season long, well into the fall and they don't seem to mind my careless approach to watering or not watering, which makes them my number one favorite to grow.
 I planted marigold starts in the corners for little pops of useful garden cheer.  I heard that they keep bad things away but I have always liked them so even if they were useless I'd probably plant them.
 This year, my herb garden was simple (basil, rosemary, thai basil, oregano, thyme and chives) but I've already included the fragrant cuttings from pruning it, into my bouquets.  I love adding basil, rosemary and oregano, along with flowering chives and lavender stems on occasion. 

 Once I've gathered cuttings of what is blooming, I bring them all inside and fill jelly jars, mugs, tumblers- whatever cute vessels I can find, and keep them all around the house.  I change the water every day in each vase, and pull out faded blooms, often adding in new cuttings to keep refreshing them.
 This was from one of the mixes I bought and I've been loving it's vibrant blue bells.

 I also tend to grab things from the veggie patch as well, such as the tops of the sugar snap peas.  They make pretty curling stems and tendrils in a tumbler with flowers.

So that's what I do when it comes to our cutting garden.  If you haven't put one in before, I encourage you to go for it even if your spaces are small.

Happy gardening!

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